Synaptic refinement improves synaptic efficiency, which provides a possibility to improve memory in Alzheimer's disease (AD). In the current study, we aimed to investigate the role of L-theanine, a natural constituent in green tea, in hippocampal synaptic transmission and to assess its potential to improve memory in transgenic AD mice. Initially, we found that L-theanine bath application facilitated hippocampal synaptic transmission and reduced paired-pulse facilitation (PPF). These effects were blocked by antagonists of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptors and the dopamine D1/5 receptor, and a selective protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor. Moreover, L-theanine enhanced PKA phosphorylation via dopamine D1/5 receptor activation. L-theanine did not influence hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) in the slices obtained from wild-type mice, but rescued the impairment of hippocampal LTP in AD mice. Importantly, systemic application of L-theanine also improved memory and hippocampal LTP in AD mice. Our results demonstrate that L-theanine administration promotes hippocampal dopamine and noradrenaline release, and stimulates PKA phosphorylation. Moreover, the rescued hippocampal LTP in AD mice could be impaired by a PKA inhibitor. Our data reveal that L-theanine ameliorates the impairment of memory and hippocampal LTP in AD mice, likely through dopamine D1/5 receptor-PKA pathway activation. These data warrant the consideration of L-theanine as a candidate for the treatment of AD.
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